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Animal rights group protests over Pope's fur

ROME (AFP) — One of Italy's leading animal rights groups said Monday it was launching an Internet petition to demand Pope Benedict XVI stop wearing fur during religious ceremonies at the Vatican.

Lorenzo Croce, chairman of the Italian Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment (AIDAA), denied being provocative or wanting to make an anti-religious statement.

"We just want to ask him in a message of love and peace to give a strong signal towards the protection of animals and the environment through a small but very significant personal sacrifice," Croce told the Italian news agency ANSA.

Since his election Pope Benedict has taken to wearing a number of traditional religious garments, including a small red velvet cape with a white ermine border, which he wears in winter along with a hat the same colour.

The association has created a website to accept signatures and Croce wants to present the petition to the pope in September.
[http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hb_YV_OC0MvHEBMC-Q36zoG8sFsg]

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